Young children are naturally active and inquisitive, and at Dean Close Pre-Prep, our excellent facilities and teaching ensure that children are given the space and coaching they need to be active, developing co-ordination, manipulation, balance and physical skills from an early age. At Dean Close, we believe that a broad curriculum is vital for enabling children to flourish and grow at this important first stage in their educational journey. This means we provide a broad, exciting and stimulating curriculum, including developing physical skills, to develop the whole child, fostering their individual abilities and giving them opportunities to discover their physical, creative, and academic talents.
Pupils take part in a timetabled active sport or games activity every day, such as P.E., Games, Music and Movement, Swimming, Tennis lessons and Dance. The Pre-Prep has excellent facilities including its own hall and equipment, enabling children to have P.E. lessons, dance and music and movement classes in our own building. The Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 pupils are also able to swim every week in our 25m swimming pool at the Senior School and have tennis lessons in their curriculum at the Sports Hall or on the outside tennis courts.
At the end of the sporting year, pupils love taking part in our Tennis tournament, in our Year Two Swimming Gala, and of course, in our Sports Day which is a wonderful, active way to end the Trinity Term! The Prep School philosophy of irresistible learning extends beyond the classroom to not only create a love of learning but a desire for each and every child to enjoy a healthy and active future.
Developing Skills in the Early Years Foundation Stage and Reception class
In the early years, the focus is on developing children’s fine and gross motor skills, good hand-eye co-ordination and a love of being active. When children first start at ‘The Squirrels’ they are encouraged to develop skills through exploring as many different games and sports as possible, the use of bikes and trikes in the playground and to be active in the Forest School and around our grounds. In the Reception class, early games skills are taught, such as unihoc, developing throwing and catching, team games and athletics. Pupils also have a P.E. lesson in the hall every week focusing on balance, gymnastic development and control. Children in Reception swim every week, developing confidence, the ability to swim independently and the beginning of stroke development. Parents of children in Reception are encouraged to accompany their children as this greatly enhances the child’s ability to swim independently.
Physical development in the Foundation Stage is about growth of co-ordination, skills, control, manipulation and movement. Two other very important aspects are increasing self-confidence in what can be achieved and learning about the positive benefits of being healthy and active.
Developing Skills in Key Stage One (Years One and Two)
As they move up the School the specialist teaching builds up the skills needed to play sports successfully, and there is a greater emphasis on team work and learning the rules of team sports like Hockey, Rugby, Netball, Rounders and Cricket. The foundation for this is laid in Year One with a structured programme covering the skills used in these sports. By the time they are in Year Two, pupils are also able to take part in friendly matches in preparation for playing sports in teams in the Prep School.
PE plays a vital role in developing co-ordination, motor control skills, manipulation and movement. Activities offer appropriate physical challenges both indoors and out, using a range of equipment. Children learn to work independently, in pairs and in group activities.
- Outdoor Games– Initially children work with ball skills and movement skills, developing these tactics for use in team games by Years One and Two.
- Indoor Gym– Children enjoy the use of specialist apparatus in the Pre-Prep Hall, developing balance, rolling, taking off and landing techniques, linking these together to form a sequence of movements.
- Dance– Children learn to move imaginatively to music, changing rhythm, speed and direction creating movement patterns.
- Tennis– Reception and Years One and Two have half termly blocks of tennis coaching throughout the year.
- Swimming – All children in Reception, Years One and Two swim each week in the school pool. Year One and Two children start developing specific strokes in swimming so that at the end of Year Two they are able to take part in a Swimming Gala at school.
First Class Coaching and Facilities
Children are coached by specialist sports teachers in swimming, tennis, rugby, netball, hockey and dance which lays a foundation of excellence and develops their understanding of match play. In Year Two, the children are taught by the Prep School Director of Games and his team, which enables a secure foundation ready for their next stage in the Prep School when they start regularly playing matches.
In addition to our own facilities at Pre-Prep, we are able to share in the excellent facilities shared by the whole Dean Close community including the 25m swimming pool, sports hall, dance studio, tennis courts, extensive playing fields, astro pitches and indoor gym. These provide a fantastic resource, enabling children to develop fully, from the co-ordination needed in tennis to the speed needed on the hockey pitch.
Friendly Matches with other Schools
All Year Two pupils have the opportunity to participate in friendly matches, experiencing travelling to an ‘away’ match (in Cheltenham!) as well as hosting teams here at Dean Close. These experiences enable the children to put their newly honed sports skills into practice in addition to learning the importance of rules, teamwork and sportsmanship – including of course match tea!